Tag: leonard leo

Background Briefing: August 22, 2022


The $1.6 Billion in Dark Money Leonard Leo Got to Finance Far-Right Causes

We begin with the breaking story in The New York Times and at ProPublica that a 90 year old billionaire donated all of his shares in his company worth $1.6 billion to a new dark money vehicle the Marble Freedom Trust controlled by Leonard Leo to save $400 million in taxes while Leo is able to use his tax-exempt status to also avoid taxes. Joining us is Brendan Fischer, Deputy Executive Director of Documented, a watchdog group where he leads their work before federal regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Election Commission, to ensure vigorous and fair enforcement of campaign finance and ethics laws, and to hold candidates and political committees accountable for violating those laws. He was previously General Counsel with the Center for Media and Democracy and we discuss how this infusion of dark money will finance far-right causes and bolster the GOP’s flagging efforts in fundraising for the November elections.


Billionaires Behind Dark Money Can’t Openly Sell Their Terrible Ideas to a Public That Doesn’t Want Them

Then we examine further how, to quote Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, “Let’s be clear: the creepy billionaire interests behind the massive dark-money machine would rather hold power in the smoking ruins of American democracy than live in a healthy democracy where they can’t sell their terrible ideas to a public that doesn’t want them”. Joining us is Nancy MacLean, a Distinguished Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. An award-winning scholar of the twentieth-century United States, her books include Behind the Mask of Chivalry, Freedom Is Not Enough, and most recently, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.


Russian Organized Crime’s Foothold in the US and Putin’s “Street University” as a “Khuligan”

Then finally we look into how Russian organized crime got a foothold in the US in Brighton Beach and how Putin’s time as a “khuligan” in what he described as his “street university” along with his ties to organized crime, are even greater influences on him than his former career as a Soviet Intelligence officer. Joining us is Douglas Century, the author and coauthor of numerous bestselling books including Hunting El Chapo, Under and Alone, Brotherhood of Warriors, Barney Ross: The Life of a Jewish Fighter, and Takedown: The Fall of the Last Mafia Empire. A veteran investigative journalist, his work has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Tablet and The Guardian, and his latest book, just out, is The Last Boss of Brighton Boris “Biba” Nayfeld and the Rise of the Russian Mob in America.